A Key Death Hits Way Harder In HBO’s The Last Of Us

After the brilliant title sequence plays, “The Last of Us” once again opts to present outbreak day through Sarah’s point of view, this time several hours before the zombies attacked her home. From the get-go, we see Sarah interact with Joel and Tommy (Gabriel Luna) throughout her father’s birthday. Their dynamic is fleshed out and believable; the chemistry is palpable between the actors. Then, Sarah gets to venture out into town to fix a gift for Joel, and we witness the anxiety-inducing moments of townspeople slowly discovering that something very wrong is about to happen. There is even a minor subplot featuring an elderly neighbor, the first of many infected Joel will encounter throughout the story.

Although there are small deviations, the extra material feels like a natural precursor to the events that unfold early in the original story. Moreover, it emphasizes the world-building aspect “The Last of Us” is known for without feeling optional. In the video game, players have to figure out the details of Sarah and Joel’s relationship for themselves by exploring the house and looking for context clues. It works well in that medium, but translating that to screen in a literal fashion would have diminished the potential of the adaptation. Sarah’s final scene not only recaptures the details of the video game, but also uniquely benefits from the extended screen time.

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